‘It’s a killer:’ Wisconsin records 1st death linked to synthetic marijuana

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MILWAUKEE — A poisonous substance is making its way into Milwaukee. It's synthetic marijuana, often called fake weed, K2 and spice.

On Wednesday, August 1, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed the first death in the county connected to it.

"It's a killer and it's scary stuff when you see your child really being impacted by this," said Jon Dykstra whose son used K2.

When Dykstra's son was 17, he started finding K2 wrappers in his son's room when a call came he won't forget.

"We have this kid that collapsed. He fell on the ground and he's not getting up," Dykstra said.

His son survived his encounter with K2 -- but others wouldn't.

"If parents are finding the packaging for these things in their kids room they should be worried," Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said.

The attorney general and local leaders issued a warning one month ago after two suspected K2 deaths in the county. On Wednesday, the Medical Examiner confirmed one of those deaths was a 33-year-old Franklin woman on July 1 and it was related to the deadly substance.

"These batches of K2 have been contaminated with what is called brodifacoum. And brodifacoum is rat poison," said Dr. Mark Kostic with Wisconsin Poison Control.

Doctors say the rat poison prevents blood clotting and can cause severe bleeding.

"This has been one of the most significant public health poisoning issues we've had apart from the opiates in several years," Kostic said.

"You think of your own child, what could have happened," Dykstra said.

Dykstra's son is in jail for a crime he thinks was partially fueled by ingesting K2.

"In the end they make a choice and I think my son made a choice," Dykstra said.

A choice he hopes his son will overcome.

"He's learning your choices do impact your freedom," Dykstra said.

Since March, there have been 45 cases across the state -- 37 confirmed connected to the substance and eight suspected. Counties with confirmed cases include Dane, Milwaukee, Outagamie and Rock.

Also this is an illegal substance and authorities said those caught selling it will be held responsible.

Synthetic cannabinoids -- often called Spice, K2 or fake weed -- have been tied to 38 cases of severe bleeding, including one death, across Chicago and areas in central Illinois.

Attorney General Brad Schimel released a statement on Wednesday, August 1 about the death below:

“This confirmed death is exactly what we feared, and I am personally asking retailers, for the safety of your community – stop selling these dangerous synthetic cannabinoids and pull them off your shelves immediately."

“We cannot allow Wisconsinites, particularly our young people, to be harmed by potentially dangerous drugs, whether they are being peddled by on the streets or sold by the person standing behind the counter of a convenience store.”

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